Greg is still consumed with love when he speaks of his wife, Cindy. She was the love of his life, and their marriage was blissful. Greg said they enjoyed each other’s company and looked forward to spending their evenings together. “Each day after work we would wait on the other to sit and relax and talk about our days,” Greg said.
Unfortunately, after 36 years of marriage, Cindy died suddenly of a heart attack. Greg was devastated. He turned to alcohol to ease the pain. “I had never done drugs or drank, but when Cindy died, I started drinking heavily,” he said.
Alcohol was never present in Greg’s childhood or in his home as he was being raised with his nine siblings in Fresno. He remembers he had “a good family and was raised in the church.”
But he was desperate to forget his pain. His drinking escalated and Greg became homeless with no money. “I drank up all my social security checks and was living on the streets and getting beat up,” he said, adding that he’d roam the streets during the day hoping for safety. “When I’d get drunk I got mouthy and that would get me into fights. I just walked around looking for places to hide. It was miserable.”
For the next three years, Greg was homeless and “drank every day, sometimes a gallon a day.” His health was declining and he knew he needed help. He would find churches and shelters that offered food and maybe a shower, but no place that helped with addiction. “I prayed a lot. I prayed I would get better,” Greg said. “But I just didn’t know where to get help.”
A friend of Greg’s told him about the Rescue Mission Alliance Central Coast and how they could help with his addiction. “My friend told me this is the place I needed to come to,” Greg said. “I had too much pain to deal with and then too much alcohol to deal with too.” When he arrived at the Mission, they gave him new clothes and assured him he would be safe, and they could assist him with his recovery.
Detoxing made the first few days in the program challenging. “Detoxing is hard,” he said. “It is an everyday thing. But I remembered what alcohol had done for me, which made me homeless and broke.” Remembering the cold, lonely nights and how miserable he was, motivates Greg to stay strong and seek healing. “I am done with drinking. I need to stay away from it and stay with the Lord. This place is like home. My desire is to get my life back.”
Greg enjoys daily devotionals and praying together, and one of Greg’s favorite parts of the program is seeing other men experience life change. Their success encourages him. “I was raised in the church and I know all about it,” Greg said. “But now I have given my life back to Jesus. I don’t have to hide anymore. I can be me with God.”
Greg is especially thankful to the staff for the support they have shown him. “They have given me grace and acceptance. We talk through things together and I know I am not alone.” His trust in people is also being restored. “Trust means a lot to me and here I can trust again. I don’t have to hide here, I am safe here.”
Greg is currently saving for an apartment. His goal is to graduate from the program and continue to restore his life, so he can give back to the Mission for what they have done for him.